HANOI – A sign at a Beijing restaurant barring citizens of nations involved in maritime disputes with China—along with dogs—has triggered a wave of online outrage among Vietnamese and Filipinos.
The Beijing Snacks restaurant near the Forbidden City, a popular tourist spot, has posted a sign on its door reading “This shop does not receive the Japanese, the Philippines, the Vietnamese and dog(s).”
Photographs of the controversial sign have gone viral in Vietnamese-language forums and featured heavily in Philippine newspapers and websites on Wednesday.
Vietnam’s state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper ran a story saying the sign had “ignited online fury”. It claimed many Vietnamese feel this is another example of Chinese “extreme nationalism that deserves to be condemned”.
“It’s not patriotism, it’s stupid extremism,” Sy Van wrote in Vietnamese in a comment under the story, published on the paper’s website.
The sign provoked thousands of posts on Vietnamese social networking sites and newspaper comment threads.
“This is teaching hate to the younger generation,” Facebook user Andrea Wanderer wrote in Vietnamese. “The owner of the restaurant has obviously been brainwashed by their government,” added Facebook user Chung Pham.
Filipinos greeted the photo with a mixture of fury and amusement.
“Blatant racism at Beijing Restaurant,” journalist Veronica Pedrosa wrote in one widely-shared tweet, while Facebook user Rey Garcia used a comment thread on a news site to retort: “Who cares, they almost cook everything, even foetus and fingernails.”
Vietnam and the Philippines are locked in a longstanding territorial row with China over islands in the South China Sea. China and Japan have a separate acrimonious dispute over islands in the East China Sea.
Philippine Foreign Department spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters in Manila Wednesday that the Beijing restaurant sign was simply one “private view” about the maritime dispute.
The photos were originally posted on Facebook.
The sign’s wording is particularly inflammatory as it recalls China’s colonial era, when British-owned establishments barred Chinese from entering.
A sign supposedly reading “No Dogs and Chinese allowed” became part of Communist propaganda after it was said to have hung outside a park in Shanghai when Western powers controlled parts of China.
It has become part of Chinese folklore and featured in the 1972 Bruce Lee film “Fists of Fury” — but many historical experts say no such sign ever existed.
The controversial Beijing sign was still in place Wednesday, according to the restaurant owner who gave only his surname of Wang. “No officials have contacted me about it. This is my own conduct,” Wang told AFP.
China racism case: Restaurant owner removes ‘racist’ sign
A defiant Beijing restaurant manager refused to apologize Thursday despite removing a “racist” sign barring citizens of states in maritime disputes with China, along with dogs, following an international outcry, AFP reported.
The notice in the window of the Beijing Snacks restaurant read: “This shop does not receive the Japanese, the Philippines, the Vietnamese and dog(s)” in both Chinese and English.
But despite taking down the sign after accusations of racism, the manager said he had no regrets and would not apologize for any offence caused, AFP said.
The manager, surnamed Wang, said it was taken down “because it was a lot of bother”.
“I don’t have any regrets,” he told the newswire. “I was just getting too many phone calls about it.”
He seemed surprised at the attention it had generated but said he would not apologize for any offence caused, suggesting it may have been misinterpreted.
“Maybe people misunderstood our meaning… it only said we would not serve customers from those countries,” he said.
The restaurant sign provoked an outcry in Vietnam and the Philippines, generating thousands of posts on Vietnamese social networking sites and newspaper comment threads.
A Vietnamese diplomat in China has said the country will respond “appropriately” to the case, BBC Vietnamese reported Wednesday.
The unnamed diplomat did not say what the response would be, but stressed that Vietnam’s viewpoint is that mutual respect and friendship has to be maintained.
Filipinos greeted the photo with a mixture of fury and amusement, AFP said. “Blatant racism at Beijing Restaurant,” journalist Veronica Pedrosa wrote in one widely-shared tweet.
Meanwhile, speaking to the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Zhai Lei Ming, Chinese consul general in Ho Chi Minh City, said the owner’s actions were wrong and did not represent a majority of the Chinese people or the Chinese government’s viewpoint.
When asked why the local government had not done anything despite the sign being posted for a long time, he said it had not been aware of it.
Responding to another question about the Chinese government’s future actions after the case was reported in the media, he said he was just a consul general, not the government or any agency that is supposed to handle it.
The photos were taken by Rose Tang, a former CNN journalist who was born in China but is now based in New York, on February 22 during her trip to Beijing, and posted on her Facebook, Tuoi Tre reported.
As of February 27, one photo which is the close-up of the shop named Beijing snacks in the capital city’s Houhai District had been shared by more than 3,700 people. The photos have drawn the attention of the international media, which has reported on the restaurant and its racist sign.
According to Tuoi Tre, it is not known when the shop’s owner, whose surname is Wang, put up the sign, but it was first mentioned on Chinese social sites like Sina and Weibo in September.
The owner was quoted as saying that he posted the notice to speak his mind, but also preferred that the Japanese, the Filipino and the Vietnamese did not read it.
However, in an interview with BBC Chinese, the shop owner said he is proud of what he has done and that he does not care what people say, the newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, speaking to Tuoi Tre, Tang said that she had posted the photos online because she felt obliged to expose what she called “racism with a twist of nationalism.” She hoped that pressure from the public and the media will teach Wang and people like him a lesson.
Many netizens have expressed their outrage on Tang’s personal page, calling the sign and the shop owner’s attitude “shocking” and “ugly.”
In one of the most liked comments, Paul Mooney, a freelance reporter in Beijing, said: “This is the [Chinese] government and Party’s fault. They tell lies about other countries and distort history and so Chinese who don’t know any better respond with ignorance. Very depressing.”
China is currently involved in sea territorial disputes with the Philippines and Vietnam over large areas of the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea. China and Japan have a separate dispute over islands in the East China Sea.
Beijing restaurant refusing service to Japanese, Filipinos, Vietnamese take down sign; won’t apologize
After a flurry of criticisms from the media and netizens from the Philippines and Vietnam, the Beijing restaurant’s manager, calling only himself as Wang, took down the sign that read: “This shop does not receive the Japanese, the Philippines, the Vietnamese and dog(s).” But, not because he felt remorse for offending anybody’s feelings. He took it down “because it was a lot of bother.”
Wang told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that he didn’t have any regrets; he “was just getting too many phone calls about it.” In fact, he seemed rather surprised, if not baffled, by the attention it garnered and was firm that he will not apologize for it. He even suggested that the sign was just misinterpreted. “Maybe people misunderstood our meaning… it only said we would not serve customers from those countries,” he said.
The way the sign was worded struck a nerve, particularly because during China’s colonial-era, British-owned stores and restaurants had also refused to provide service to Chinese nationals. There was supposedly a sign outside a Shanghai park that read “No Dogs and Chinese allowed,” which fueled the Communist propaganda, and was even featured in a 1972 film starring Bruce Lee called Fists of Fury. However, many historians have already debunked the existence of such a sign. Well, when future historians look back on this controversy about the restaurant in Beijing that held a sign on its window placing in the same breath the Japanese, the Filipinos, the Vietnamese and dogs, they would confirm that the sign did, in fact, exist.
Beijing eatery wrong to post racist sign: Chinese diplomat
It is wrong and definitely unsatisfactory for a Chinese restaurant in Beijing to have put up a sign banning customers from three Asian countries now embroiled in maritime territorial disputes with China, Chinese Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City Zhai Lei Ming told Tuoi Tre on Wednesday.
He made the statement in Vietnamese by telephone when the newspaper asked for comment on the incident in which a restaurant, Beijing Snacks, located in the Houhai Lake neighborhood, a popular tourist spot to the north of the Forbidden City, has displayed a sign on its window in Chinese and English that reads, “This shop does not receive the Japanese, the Philippines, the Vietnamese and dog” [sic].
This is an extremely rare incident, Zhai said, adding that bad people do exist everywhere.
It does not represent the standpoint of the Chinese people and their government, the diplomat asserted.
When asked why the Chinese government has yet to respond to this case when the sign has been displayed for a while, Zhai responded that they did not know about it.
He said that he is simply a consul general, not the government or any market management force, when Tuoi Tre asked if China will take any action once the address of the eatery is revealed.
In a related development, the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday that the sign is just “an isolated case.”
The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted DFA Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez as saying the same day that it is “a private view about the whole situation that is happening between the Philippines and China.”
“We hope that it is not a state policy not to allow Filipinos to get to restaurants in Beijing,” Hernandez added.
Anger has flared up online since a former CNN reporter, New York-based Rose Tang, who was born and raised in mainland China, posted four photos of the sign on her Facebook page on February 22.
Many condemned the restaurant owner, surnamed Wang, saying his view is extreme nationalism.
China is now locked in spats with Vietnam and the Philippines over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos in the East Sea, and with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea.
A wave of anti-Japanese protests erupted in many areas of China last year, with locals vandalizing Japanese shops and outlets.